Citing the upending of schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Harvard University on Monday said it will drop the requirement of standardized exams, such as the SAT or ACT, for fall 2021 applicants, making the submission of these test scores optional.
“We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has created insurmountable challenges in scheduling tests for all students, particularly those from modest economic backgrounds, and we believe this temporary change addresses these challenges,” Harvard said on its website. “Students who do not submit standardized testing this coming year will not be disadvantaged in the application process.” Students who are only able to present pass/fail grades or other similar marks on their transcripts this spring won’t be disadvantaged either, the university said.
Harvard joins dozens of other colleges and universities, including most Ivy Leagues, in making the SAT/ACT optional or waiving it altogether for the 2020-21 admission cycle.
The ACT, and the College Board, which administers the SAT, have canceled or postponed the exams since the pandemic began. The College Board also put on hold a plan for an at-home SAT exam.
In the last few years, many colleges have gone fully test-optional and many have dropped the requirement for SAT/ACT altogether. In May, the University of California system voted to scrap the SAT/ACT standardized exam requirement for undergraduate admission by phasing it out through 2024 and completely eliminating it for California students by 2025.